Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
I'm not sure you really need me to tell you to read this book; if you haven't noticed, it's winning awards left, right and centre and everyone is absolutely raving about it (including me). But, I think it bears repeating, especially the book is out in paperback and therefore a little cheaper and more accessible.
In the book, Reni Eddo-Lodge provides a new framework for thinking about race and racism in the UK, moving from discussions of the erased black history (particularly how we gloss over slavery in UK history) through to explorations of the intersections between class and race, and her experiences of white feminism. Not only is this book compelling, clear and concise - especially if you're not super aware of the history and reality of racism in the UK (which I thought I was until I read this book...) - it's also at times uncomfortable, challenging and heart-wrenching. Which only makes it more important for everyone to read, and to think and talk more about this.
Bonus: Cass put me onto Reni's podcast 'About Race', which explores a lot of the same issues of the book and is absolutely fantastically researched, presented and produced. And now, I would like to put you onto it, because I think that everyone needs to listen.
Goal Diggers is a reality TV show centred around five successful women; originally meant to break down some of the stereotypes about the genre and about powerful women, the producers are now orchestrating more elaborate storylines and arguments between the cast. At the heart of it all are two sisters, Brett and Kelly, who have always been in competition with each other, even as they work together. The novel begins with the revelation that Brett has been murdered, and the producer is working with Kelly to create the perfect reality TV moment around her death - but what really happened behind the scenes?
I found the book slow-going at first, trying to pick apart which character was which and what their back story was; at times I think the book is deliberately misleading to add to the suspense and at times I think it's just hard to keep track of five women's stories with little introduction. But, once I was into the meat of the book and the secrets kept mounting, I was hooked on finding out the truth - which isn't as it seems. As the lines blurred more between fiction and truth, it was almost dizzying to live in the world of these women, watching them try to navigate their friendships, their business and their place on the TV show. I'm not sure it paints women in the most attractive light, but maybe that's the point. But, it was dramatic and compelling, and sometimes that's as deep as you need to get in a book.
As a law student, Alexandria finds herself in Louisiana, ready to passionately defend clients against the death penalty. Until she happens upon the case of Ricky Langley, a paedophile and murderer, whose story hits a little too close to home. Unable to stop thinking about the case, she goes on a mission to understand both Ricky's case and the abuse and realities of her own family life.
She fictionalises Ricky's history, and the moments of his crime, weaving them deftly with stories of her own life and childhood. At times, you feel the (rightful) anger and disgust towards Ricky, but at times a deep sadness and almost sympathy for the facts of his own life. It's incredibly raw to read Alexandria's grappling with her own history and experiences, and she doesn't shy away from the true complexities of life; how you can simultaneously feel that disgust and that sympathy. She discusses how the point at which we enter the story affects the truth and our feelings about it, which will become clearer if you read it; if you just take Ricky as he was when he murdered Jeremy Guillory you may feel quite differently than if you look back to the facts of his conception and birth and go from there.
I'll leave it there because I think it's something you have to experience on your own, and I would hate to spoil it for you. But needless to say, this book is unlike anything I've ever read before; it's beautiful and thought-provoking and powerful.
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